A selection of reviews appear below, for more reader's comments on Supper with the President go to amazon.co.uk
"It's such a pleasure to read an Ian Mathie book, so I really looked forward to Supper with the President. No surprises, then, to find this book every bit as delightful, intriguing and informative as his others. Ian Mathie knows exactly how to stitch up a good story; the occasional photographs - proving the stories are not fiction - come almost as a surprise. The books are helpfully illustrated with simple maps placing the stories in geographical context. To me, Ian Mathie is simply the best of the relatively unknown writers I have come across as a reviewer. Interestingly, the two men in my household grab and devour Ian Mathie's books, and I imagine anyone interested in development issues and/or Africa would welcome one or two of his titles for Christmas.
Ian Mathie worked for the British government in the 1970's bringing his water engineering expertise to rural West African communities in Mali, Senegal, Ghana and Togo. His self-imposed brief was to find ways round central bureaucracy and corruption, local culture and ignorance, which he surely did with his diplomatic skills and 'can do' attitude to every challenge. In the days long before Live Aid and Comic Relief, Ian Mathie was helping ordinary Africans to help themselves.
A lovely story he tells is of a dam built in Southern Mali by the army, following his tongue in cheek, unconventional proposal to an interested stranger over supper, who turns out to be the President of Mali. The scheme was a huge success, providing water to grow fresh vegetables. Sadly, nine years on, the dam failed because the footings had been inadequately prepared by the military. It is sobering to realise how long we have been pedalling to stand still.
Having been brought up in Africa, Ian Mathie is no professional writer flitting through the land for the benefit of armchair travellers and his bank balance. Instead he is the real thing, a man who lived, worked and made temporary homes among the people he helped - and it shows. Just for interest, he joined a camel caravan travelling from Timbuktu North across the Sahara to the salt mines of Taoudenni and then on to Laghouat in Algeria, an intrepid journey of forty-seven days. I doubt he would have survived without his own survival skills and the goodwill of the caravanserai.
Another chapter begs some interesting questions when an apparent curse on him is mysteriously lifted by a local witchdoctor. This strange tale is made all the more powerful by Ian Mathie's unassuming, pragmatic writing, absolutely convincing the reader of the authenticity of his account."
Trish Simpson-Davis, The Bookbag
"Supper with the President is one of the most humorous and fascinating books that I have read in a long time. The author gave an insight into his experiences whilst working in various parts of Africa as a development officer and the many characters that he met along the way.
The nine chapters of the book were so captivating and funny that I did not want to finish reading the book, so I took my time. The chapters I enjoyed the most were the Mint Tea and the One Eyed Goat, about a train journey from Mali to Senegal, sharing a berth with a Lebanese merchant and his one eyed goat, the mysterious smell of fish and other odd characters on the train.
Godfrey's Elephants was beautiful and funny, especially when reading about the havoc that Mulanye and others caused. It was also very sad to read about what eventually happened to them all. The Sorcerer's Spells was very funny and Jailbreak was a very daring and selfless act.
This book ticked all boxes for me and I would not hesitate to recommend it for individual or group reading (I already have three people waiting to read my copy).
Ola Ade, New Books Magazine
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